Heat related deaths on the rise

June 11, 2008 8:36:51 PM PDT
The heat has led to another six deaths in Philadelphia and one in Pottstown. Joe Wodarski was sunbathing Sunday afternoon at his home when he died of heat stroke.

His body was found two days later.

Neighbors say 65-year-old Joe Wodarski had a drink in one hand and the Beatles on the stereo when he died of heatstroke up on his second floor balcony.

"We found out when a friend of his had called the police because he hadn't heard from him in two days, and police came, so we walked over, and that's when they discovered he had passed away," neighbor Lisa Derenzo said.

Lisa Derenzo said Wodarski seemed to be in good shape. He suffered some health problems in the past, but appeared to be healthy and vibrant.

According to Dr. Stephen Costalas, when temperatures and humidity reach levels like that of the past few days, even the most mundane activities like sunbathing can be deadly.

The body struggles to cool off leading to hypothermia.

"There's certain predisposing factors like dehydration that could set you up for problems," Dr. Costalas said.

Dr. Costalas wonders if a preexisting condition contributed to Wodarski's death; the county medical examiner will not say.

Six others died Tuesday in Philadelphia. The medical examiner's office said all victims were elderly, had preexisting heart conditions, and none were using air conditioners.

The heat victims are:

An 89-year-old man died due to atherosclerosis disease and heat stress.

A 65-year-old female died due to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease; she had no air conditioning, no fans, and the windows were closed.

A 69 -year-old female died due to hypertensive cardiovascular disease cerebral vascular disease and heat stress; there was no air conditioning, but had a fan.

A 91-year-old female died due to atherosclerosis disease and excessive heat exposure; she had a fan that was malfunctioning and blowing hot air into the room

An 85-year-old male died due to hypertensive cardiovascular disease and dementia and excessive heat exposure; there was air conditioning on the first floor, but only fans in windows on the second floor where he was found

A 94-year-old man died to atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and excessive heat exposure; windows were open, but there was no fan or air conditioning.